The announcment of Marian Hossa's number retirement ushers in the new era of Blackhawks due to be immortalized in the United Center. On this new series, I will look at who deserves the honor. At the end of each column, I'll rank where I believe that player belongs in regards to "immortalization" with the Blackhawks: "Statue," "Rafters," or "One Last Shift." Again, these will be my opinions on who deserves what level of honor. I encourage any discussion over differing opinions to take place cordially in the comments below or on social media. I'd be happy to engage in friendly debate with you.
For today's "After the Rafters" focus, I will take a look at Patrick Sharp.
Probably the most beautiful Blackhawk in franchise history deserves a statue just so fangirls and fanboys alike can ooh and ahh at him for decades. If there was a statue built, Sharp would finally be "chiseled" permanently.
But enough about his looks. Let's focus on his statistics and his impact on the team. After three seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, by whom he was drafted, former Blackhawks general manager, Dale Tallon acquired Patrick Sharp in a trade during the 2005-06 season. The Blackhawks were still in the doldrums of a rebuild, after being called "the worst franchise in sports" by ESPN a year earlier. Sharps arrival didn't make an enormous impact that year, but in 50 games with the Blackhawks, he did record 23 points (31 for the whole season including his pre-trade numbers with Philadelphia, matching his career high). In the 2006-07 season, he posted his best points total of his career at 35 in 80 games. Pretty much every year after that was an improvement, despite working through injuries a few times.
Starting in the 2007-08 season, Patrick Sharp was a finalist in the Selke Award (best defensive forward) voting every year until the 2012-13 season. During the Stanley Cup Championship season of 2009-10, Sharp earned his first All-Star Game appearance and on the season, amassed his career best, at the time, of 66 points. He followed that up with an even better season with 71 points in just 74 games and was voted to the All-Star team for a second consecutive year. With 69 points in 74 games and the best +/- of his career at 28, Sharp earned All-Star honors for a third consecutive year in 2011-12. Sharp was well on his way to a fourth straight All-Star appearance in 2013 with 20 points in 28 games, but the lockout-shortened season prevented the All-Star Game from being played.
2013-14 was the final season of peak Patrick Sharp. He recorded a career high 78 points in 82 games, was voted again to the All-Star team for his fourth and final time, and finished 20th in the league in Hart Trophy (MVP) voting. It was a magical year for Sharp, then 32, though the season ended tragically on a bouncing puck from Alec Martinez only 5:47 into overtime in Game 7. The Kings went on to win the Stanley Cup. It was a tragic ending to a great year for Sharp, who showed out in that Game 7, with 2 goals, each of which broke ties in the game.
Of course, we know what happened in the 2014-15 season when the Blackhawks ascended to the heights again and won their third Stanley Cup in 6 seasons. But that year was the beginning of the end for Patrick Sharp, who recorded just 43 points in 68 games and recorded his worst +/- (-8) with the Blackhawks since the 2006-07 season. Of course, he did hoist Lord Stanley's Cup one last time and recorded 15 points in the postseason to help the Hawks complete their mission. Sadly, due to salary cap constraints and decline in play, Sharp was dealt to Dallas in the offseason with defenseman, Stephen Johns in exchange for Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt.
For the 2017-18 season, Patrick Sharp returned to the Blackhawks for one final go. It was clear his time was about done as Sharp recorded only 21 points in 70 games, and only earned his alternate captain title with the team for honorary purposes during the final game of the season. Sharp announced his retirement, and began a very successful career as a television analyst.
Patrick Sharp will be forever remembered by Blackhawks fans and is still one oof the greatest and most important pieces of the Stanley Cup core. After names like Kane, Toews, Keith, and Seabrook, Sharp is one of the next names mentioned. You can see that his accolades are bountiful and he is deserving of being honored by the Blackhawks.
So, what level of "immortalization" should we refer to here? I would argue the "Rafters." I think Sharp accomplished enough in his career and played a large enough role in the Stanley Cup Championship runs that retiring #10 seems fitting. I think just a "One More Shift" would be too little of an honor, but he is definitely not deserving of a statue. Maybe the best would be if the Blackhawks installed a sort of "ring of honor" as many stadiums have, so that his name, likeness, and number would forever be remembered, but not retired. With the three options I've given myself, I am going to go with "Rafters," but I think a "ring of honor" ceremony is most fitting for the former alternate captain, stud forward, and heartthrob Patrick Sharp.